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Boston Marathon: Runners from Oklahoma talk about bombing

86 runners from Oklahoma were registered to compete in the Boston Marathon. The Oklahoman talked to several about what they heard and saw.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM Published: April 15, 2013

Phil Kenkel could see the finish line. He was staring at it, until white billows of smoke and a loud noise broke his stare.

A professor in economics, Kenkel teaches Agricultural Cooperatives at Oklahoma State. On Monday, he traded his teaching for racing and he said he was 20 feet away when the second of two bombs went off in a building off Boylston Street.

He saw the first explosion, but he kept running.

At age 56 and running his first Boston Marathon, he was wondering whether to attempt to finish.

The male runner next to him asked, “What do we do now?”

What do you do when the world around you is shattering glass and scattering people? Do you keep running? Do you turn around?

It didn't make sense to Kenkel to stop and wait for more explosions. When the second bomb exploded, his decision was almost made for him. The street of Boylston had turned into a human marathon  —   of runners and spectators  —   and they were all running for their lives.

‘Everyone began to cry'

Susan Phillips of Oklahoma City sat in a wheelchair and bent over to loosen up the laces on her gray and blue Asics running shoes.

She was one of 86 Oklahomans who registered to run in this year's Boston Marathon. She just finished the 26.2 miles and wanted to go get her finisher medal and personal bag with her phone and clothes. Moments after she stood up, she felt the ground shake.

A nearby female runner grabbed hold of her.

“I immediately thought, ‘Oh my god,'” Phillips told The Oklahoman from a Starbucks about three blocks from the explosion. “Everyone began to cry.”

They were just a few blocks away from the explosions.

“There was a sense of panic in the beginning,” Phillips said. “It was scary.”

Phillips said all subway and bus lines closed in Boston, leaving her stranded from her parents, who were both OK but were a few miles away. They had watched her run by at mile No. 23.

Sadly, this isn't the first explosion Phillips felt. While living in Edmond in 1995, she felt the explosion from the Oklahoma City bombing.

Phillips now lives in Oklahoma City, about five miles from the Oklahoma City Memorial.

The last time she ran past it was Sunday.

Waiting to hear a voice

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